Women's Basketball
Late Illini Rally Falls Short Against Michigan

Taylor Tuck broke out with a career high 18 points on Sunday
Taylor Tuck broke out with a career high 18 points on Sunday

Feb. 16, 2014

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill.  - Illinois used a 12-0 run to grab a one-point lead in the second half and was within two at the 3:11 mark, but Michigan scored seven of the game's final nine points to pull out a 70-63 win over the Illini in front of 3,018 fans at State Farm Center on Sunday, Illinois' largest paid crowd of the season. Taylor Tuck had a career-high 18 points and Amber Moore drilled five three-pointers on her way to 19, but the Illini went 1-of-5 from the field in the final three minutes and Illinois couldn't contain Michigan forward Cyesha Goree, who finished with 30 points and 19 rebounds.

"I thought we played a good first half, especially offensively," Illinois head coach Matt Bollant said. "We took really good shots and showed a lot of patience. I really liked the way we played offensively in the first half. Unfortunately, we didn't make some of those same shots in the second half.

"Our defense was a little better in the second half - our effort was better - but we just didn't have an answer for Cyesha (Goree) all game. Thirty points and 19 rebounds, obviously that was the difference in the game. Part of it was our lack of length and part of it was the lack of getting somebody on her and rebounding as a team. I thought Taylor had her best game of the year coming off the bench, and I thought Amber stepped up and made shots throughout and was active on the defensive end as well."

Illinois shot 56.5 percent (13-of-23) in the first half and made 6-of-11 (54.5 percent) three-pointers in the period, while holding Michigan to 13-of-33 (39.4 percent) and 2-of-6 from beyond the arc. But Michigan built its lead at the free-throw line early, making 12-of-17 (70.6 percent) in the first half. But the script flipped in the second half as the Wolverines shot 50 percent (10-of-20) from the field and 9-of-13 (69.2 percent) from the charity stripe, while Illinois shot just 31.4 percent (11-of-35) from the field and 3-of-13 (23.1 percent) from three-point range.

The Illini forced Michigan into 21 turnovers and turned those into 19 points, but Michigan out-rebounded Illinois 48-19, including a whopping 21 offensive rebounds by the Wolverines.

Moore hit 7-of-14 from the field and 5-of-9 from three-point range for her 19 points, her most since scoring 20 at Ohio State on Jan. 30. And Tuck also was 7-of-14 from the floor, and made 3-of-5 from the free-throw line for her career-high 18 points in 31 minutes. Tuck's only other game this season in double figures was her 11-point against Alcorn State on Nov. 17 and she had only scored 29 points in 10 Big Ten games prior to Sunday. Alexis Smith also added 10 points, all in the second half, on 3-of-5 shooting including 2-of-3 three-pointers.

Michigan pulled out to a 12-8 lead six minutes into the game but the Illini scored the next five points to go ahead 13-12 on a pair of free throws by Taylor Tuck. That began a stretch where Tuck scored six straight points but Michigan matched her bucket-for-bucket before Cyesha Goree scored four points in a row for Michigan, pushing the Wolverines' lead to 22-17.

Michigan extended its run to 8-0 for a 24-17 advantage before Ivory Crawford drained a jumper, but Michigan scored the next four points. Illinois pulled within five on a Tuck trey at the 5:22 mark and again at the 3:27 mark on one of Moore's five triples. Michigan pushed the lead back to eight but Tuck hit a jumper in the paint and Sarah Hartwell made a layup with 1:01 to pull within 38-34. But Goree made two free throws for a 40-34 Michigan lead at halftime.

The Wolverines scored the first six points of the second half before Tuck stopped the run with a jumper. But Michigan kept the lead around 10 until Crawford hit 1-of-2 from the line at 13:01 and Alexis Smith drained a three-pointer 30 seconds later. After Michigan missed two shots, Crawford got a steal and found Smith, who threw it ahead to Tuck for the three-point play.

Nia Oden got a steal on the other end and Tuck missed two free throws but Smith got the offensive board and put it back. After the teams traded turnovers, Tuck dished to Smith for the open three-pointer that gave the Illini a 53-52 lead, their first since the 10:49 mark of the first half.

But it was short lived as Michigan scored the next seven points, pushing ahead 59-53. Tuck hit a jumper to cut the margin to four but Goree scored the next four points to make it a 63-55 Wolverine lead. Crawford made a jumper, though, and Moore got a steal before scoring down low. Smith got another steal and was fouled, then drained two free throws to pull Illinois within 63-61 with 3:11 remaining.

Michigan turned it over on the other end but Smith coughed it up on the perimeter and Moore fouled Michigan's Shannon Smith to prevent a breakaway. Smith hit both free throws and the Illini went cold from there, missing four of their final five shots as the Wolverines salted away the 70-63 win.

The Illini now get their second open date in the Big Ten schedule this week before returning to action against Indiana in Bloomington on Saturday. That game will air live on the Big Ten Network at 2:30 p.m. CT.